X-Men & The Trans Community

 

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From the comics I read as a kid, to the nineties Fox cartoon and then the X-Men film franchise that has been running for the last twenty years they have been there. At college we use to go to the local chip shop during dinner and play on the arcade game there. I was always Nightcrawler, my favourite at the time. (Well there was also Wolverine but my mate was always him)
Wolverine can of course be considered one of the most popular of the X-men. Hugh Jackman has played him superbly in the franchise with three solo movies and a number of cameos. But for me it’s a team thing. The comics, the series, even the X-Men games I still have for the Playstation it’s a group. Cyclopes, Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Beast. Just a few of my favourites.

Now since starting this blog I’ve written a few posts on heroes. From the role models I’ve had over the years such as He-man and Spiderman to looking at Batman, Supergirl and the themes of identity. The X-men then also provide a personal meaning to me. They are a minority group. Created in the sixties it seems obvious that Stan Lee took themes from the racist attitudes that existed. They became metaphoric for people who were treated different because they were different. A theme still relevant in the eighties and nineties with homosexuality and the AIDS crisis. A theme still relevant now because of the issues with Trans people.

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Let’s take a look at the X-men or more precisely the mutant community. Outcasts, feared for being different and not fitting into what people consider the norm. Many of these mutants don’t have the great powers of the X-men or their enemies. Their mutation may be just something small. A little bit different in their identity and all they want to do is try and live a normal life, try to fit in with society.
This is what most Trans people want. When people shout about Trans women using women’s toilet the argument always have someone say ‘Why not have separate toilets for trans women.’ Well apart from the impracticalities, such as establishments having to fit an extra toilet area, the fact remains it marks someone out as different.

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A Trans woman is a woman, a mantra often repeated by many but with good reason. They don’t want to be seen as something different. They are just trying to get on with their lives as the person they are. They just want to go for a pee. There shouldn’t be any reason why they should have to enter through a door marked just for them, a door that advertises to those around that this person is different. A talking point. Someone to stop and stare at. A person who is now open to attack and ridicule. The toilet might as well just have a big flashing sign across the top. What this separate toilet does is force that person to identify themselves just because they need to pee.

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Ok, mini rant over but we’ll be coming back to identity later. On Twitter it is almost like there is a war going on. Trans people and their allies one side. Cis people and allies on the other. Arguing over rights, safety, respect or even the meaning of words. It’s the same as the world of the X-men. A minority group fighting for their rights, sometime to even exist, in the world and the other side against them. Or even just confused by it. In X-men 2 there is a scene where Iceman’s mother uses the line “Have you tried not being a mutant?” It’s a line that has been used against both homosexuals and Trans people. A mistaken belief that it is a choice. Something that can be turned off.
And like the world of the X-men there are different factions. Many are those just trying to live. Others are more outspoken, activists who like the X-men put themselves out there to fight and be visible. Munroe Berkoff, Paris Lee, Dr Rachel McKinnon. Sadly there are others as well who are more like Magneto’s team, willing to use violence (speech) to achieve their aims. The more extremist side. But the same goes for the other side. Many of those fighting against Trans people are just people with concerns about safety, fairness and loss of rights. There is misinformation and there is fear. But there is a few that are more hateful. Rather like the Mutant Liberation Front they don’t think Trans people should exist or if they do they should be segregated from the rest of society. And rather like scenes we’ve seen in those comics, movies and cartoons there are those who would use violence against individuals. Who are quite proud to announce on social media about what they would do if they came across a Trans person. It’s a scary world out there. To think there are people out there who I’ve never met, never spoken to who hate me for who I am and would beat the shit out of me if they came across me.
I’ve seen posts that advocates for Trans people to have to wear a symbol to mark them out in society. Even for there to be a registration. An idea I pointed out at the time was similar to the X-men.

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It’s here that we can return to the point about identity. Why do Trans people need to wear something to mark them out? Why is it important for people to be able to recognise them in the street? There is only one answer and it’s because they are seen as wrong. They are seen as dangerous. “Oh right, yeah you can exist as a woman but we need to know you were born male.” Is it so you can stop your children conversing with someone Trans? Is it so you know not to walk on the same side of the street? Does it matter that such a move would identity Trans people out to the more extreme elements of society, resulting in bulling, beatings and possibly death. Where is the concern for safety now?
The only thing such actions such as separate toilets and wearing symbols does is it makes it easier for people to identify. There has already been cases where women have been accosted in restrooms by people who believe they are trans. A woman accused of sexual assault in America resulted in some on Twitter pointing her out as Trans. When I argued what evidence they had for this the reply was “My eyes, she looks like a man.” Even Kira Knightly has come under scrutiny with some believing she is secretly Trans because of the way she is built. Fear and hatred allow such things to happen.
These themes in the X-men comics have been going for fifty years, I’m hoping it doesn’t take fifty years before Trans people are allowed to live in relative peace. Hopefully we can find a common ground. A way to provide safety where needed for both sides while allowing Trans people to live the way they want. It’ll never be perfect. Last year (2018) a man refused to sit next to a black woman on a plane. Gay couples are still refused rooms in some hotels or cakes made for their wedding. There are still calls for conversion therapy.

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I spoke in the previous blog about how I hope X-men movies still get made and with the wealth of stories out there why there is no reason they couldn’t. One of my ‘favourite’ stories is God Loves, Man Kills’. It’s hard hitting. From the very start two mutant children are killed and strung up just for being different. There is hatred spread throughout. It’s emotional, it’s hard and it deserves a movie version. It ends both on a note of hopefulness, An act of kindness from one human, and a bittersweet note as the fight to exist is only temporary halted before it begins again. The battle won but not the war. A brief respite before the arguments begin again on whether they should be allowed the same basic rights as other human beings.

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For those that are not X-men fans and are more DC then I would recommend the latest season of Supergirl. (Season four) It currently has the same themes although between humans and aliens. There is an obvious parallel with themes of immigration but also those themes of being discriminated against for being different. Given that it now features a Trans woman as a superhero it certainly highlights these themes and out of the four CW series at the moment it’s the one that I’m most into at the moment.

The X-men, Supergirl or any number of super hero stories out there can highlight injustice in the world. Call out hate and bigotry and gives us role models to look up to. But it also has to be said someone doesn’t need to have super powers to make a stand. To give respect to others and fight for peoples right to live in this world.

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Should the X-Men films be rebooted

 

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Recently I was sorting through my superhero DVDs, sorting the MCU films into a chronological order to watch rather than release date. Trying to do the same with my X-men films proved a little bit more problematic.
You have the original trilogy. X-Men, X-Men United and Last Stand. Then Wolverine Origin came out. No problem put that to the front. Then First Class. So far so good. The Days of Future Present? After First Class? After Last Stand? Ok I went for after Last Stand. After all it follows on from The Wolverine which follows on from the events of Last Stand and we see Logan’s actions change future events of Last Stand as well as a few other points. So already we have a soft reboot.
But then came Apocalypse. Were the hell does that go. Obviously before the events of X-men but after Days of Future past which is after Last Stand which no longer really exists. Suddenly I’m starting to get a headache and we’ve not yet gotten to the upcoming Dark Phoenix which seems to be a revamped version of Last Stand.

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Maybe it doesn’t really matter and with Days of Future Past how much of X-Men and X-men reunited were changed. Perhaps those films are now an alternative timeline.
But I have other problems with the franchise. First Class is set in 62. Days in 73, Apocalypse 83 and Dark Phoenix 93. While it’s a sort of cool gimmick jump a ten year gap with each movie with the next instalment set just seven years (or ten) before the first X-men movie and with 30 years pasting since first Class one has to wonder about the characters being portrayed here. Xavier and others don’t seem to age that much especially given that he is supposed to be looking somewhere like Patrick Stewart by now. In fact Wolverine Origins has a Cameo by Stewart’s Xavier and that’s is set in 79. No wonder Deadpool has to question which Xavier Colossus is taking him to see.

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So where I can believe events changed it is more challenging to me to believe the characters I’m now watching are going to become the ones we see in the original movies. Maybe if First Class had been a proper reboot it wouldn’t matter but Days of Future Past sees both versions of characters existing. Of course there could be some artistic licence here. After all in the comics different artists have put their own vision on the characters over the years and yet they have always remained looking similar over the decades.
So now that Disney now owns the rights and that they may want to use characters in the MCU maybe it’s’ time for an X-men reboot somewhere down the line. And it will definitely have to be a reboot. We have already had a Quicksilver in the MCU so as much as I love Evans Peters version it’s hard to see how he can be used. Likewise as much as it would be good to see Wolverine appear, Hugh Jackman has hung up his claws so a recast is required here. However Jackman has become somewhat iconic with the role it’s difficult to vision another actor take the part so soon. But then we’ve had three different Spider-men in the same time period.

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As a recent you tube video recently pointed out introducing the X-men into the MCU has it’s problems. We have to wonder where mutants have been all this time so it might only be possible to bring in the X-Men with a new modern timeline. Alternative some sort of universe crossover? Two separate Earths colliding allowing for the characters to appear together? It doesn’t sound like it would be a bad idea and I’m already suspecting this might be what is in store for the separate Earths of the DC CW shows next year.
But I do want to see something happen because I remember when X-men first came out around the same time as the Spiderman movies and thinking how cool would a crossover be. Of course given that X-men movies are still coming out it may be that some time is needed between retellings. But then they had no problem with Spiderman. The Flash has appeared in a DC movie despite the TV series and I think audiences today can take different versions of characters at the same time. After all there is over fifty years of comics to take from so there is really no need to repeat recent storylines. Of course they may just take a couple of characters from the X-men to use, maybe just too finally get some interesting villains. But I hope that in some way we do still get X-men movies because the X-Men represents something personal for me that doesn’t come with other heroes. But that’s another blog post coming soon.

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How we (& others) perceive ourselves.

 

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When you look into a mirror what do you see? The person you want to be? Potential? Do you look and think “Hey I’m looking pretty good today” or “Why won’t my hair go right, Is that bags under my eyes, I hate the way I look”?
I suspect it’s maybe the same for most people as it is for me. Sometimes I think I look ok sometimes I hate my looks. I mean when I’m getting ready to go out anywhere I want to try and look my best. Same with what I wear. I don’t just grab the nearest thing to throw on. Does this t-shirt make me look fat? Does this shirt go with these jeans? What earings to wear? It’s all carefully considered to how I want to present myself to the outside world. What message I want to send out to people.

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But it can sometime be a balancing act between what makes you feel comfortable and what makes you look good. Several years ago I sported a goatee and was told by a couple of people it suited me. And at the time I liked it. Now though I find it hard to go outside without being clean shaven. It can make me feel as if I’m not myself. I hate the roughness of my skin. The same with my red hair. Some liked it, some didn’t. And at the moment my hair is rather long. Despite how I love the feel of my hair down the back of my neck I know it looks unruly, untidy and needs a cut. But not too short. A while ago when I was still in a relationship my girlfriend convinced me to let her cut my hair. I do so but regretted it because she cut it shorter then what I had wanted. Why later on when it had grown back I let her cut it again, despite repeating once more not to go to short, I’ll never know.
But the point is this. I felt disappointed because I didn’t want my hair that short. It didn’t feel like me. Now from my girlfriend’s point of view she was cutting it to as style she thought looked good on me. And maybe it did. I can’t deny either that in the past I haven’t sought advice on my looks and style. I had a friend go through my wardrobe once throwing out anything she recommended getting rid of.
Plus I’m the type of person that if I find a style I like, I’ll stick to it or variations of it for a while until my taste change again.
So going back to this balancing act because this is where I’m at right now. I’m beginning to think more about my appearance because there is someone I’m interested in. And my first thought is how can I make myself appear more attractive, plastic surgery not really being an option? And so I begin to look at how to compromise how I like to look with how should I look. Will growing a goatee make me look manlier and attractive? A very short hair cut? Where is the line between what I find comfortable and what makes me look good?

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Now the simple answer to this is, where what you like, look how you want. Be yourself and the right people will like you for being you. And I stick by that advice. But can we trust our own judgement? When I look in the mirror and think “Hey my hair looks great today” that is my own perception. What people outside might see is wild hair all over the place. How many celebrity style disasters have been seen reported in magazines.
So rightly or wrongly we do place a great deal of importance on how others perceive us. I have a Doctor Who scarf, the long Tom Baker one. It is very rare I wear it out because I worried if it looks stupid. But at Christmas time whilst doing some photos I put together an outfit with the scarf that I loved. I thought it looked good, comfortable but not one I would wear out in public.
The reason. Because I liked it along with the wig and makeup. Without it, it doesn’t look right on me. And that’s another thing. Makeup. I’d love to be able to wear it out. And not just as female. There is a guy I fancy like mad and when he wears make up he looks just so damn cute. I wish I could do the same but a lack of confidence both in my skills and my looks stop me from doing so. When I wrote A Girl’s Night Out I found it easy because many of the events that happen comes from my own wishes of what I would love to do.

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There is this fight within myself to go out how I want to and to try and find a way to not look awful. And trust me some of the people I hang around with will let me know when I’m wearing something stupid. I mean I push the boundary. My rainbow laces in my trainers and boots that I got for Pride month a year ago are still on them. I like the look. And I’m happy to wear nail varnish out most of the time, as long as I’ve done a decent enough job on them. So there is already a part of me that doesn’t care what people think.
So why all of a sudden do I feel the need to look my best? Why am I worried about how people see me? Well maybe it’s because I’m falling in love. Yes for the last few weeks I’ve been feeling joy and happiness I’ve not felt for a long time and it’s down to my feelings for this guy. Now before I get too carried away I know there isn’t really much chance of getting with him. That’s not just me being hard on myself but because I’m aware it’s very unlikely to come to fruition and for various reasons. But when I see him I do want to make sure I look good especially if I’m having a photo with them. This brings me to my final point.
We try and present ourselves to the world in the way we want to be seen. Even if you are someone who doesn’t care about style or looking fabulous it’s still a statement saying I don’t care what people think, this is me. But when there is someone you want to look good in front of, that’s when you start to make a little bit more effort. In my past there was a girl I really fell for. It’s been a few years but I have never fully gotten over her. The thing was though because of her I always made an effort to look as good as I could. It was a great motivator to look after myself (although dropping a dress size is currently working for me, I hope).
But I was trying to present myself as someone she might find attractive. I took on her advice on what to wear, how to have my hair. To grow a beard because I wanted to look good for her. And because of my feelings for her, because I was worried about what she thought of me I missed out of some opportunities. Had I confided in her of how I wanted to look maybe I could have been myself instead. She was great at makeup and I always resisted the temptation to ask her for lessons and tips.
So what is the answer for me now? When I next see this guy I want to look good, but I also know I need to be myself. I have to find a balance of looking good and being comfortable. I’m not sure yet how that is going to work out. I’m working on bits of myself I don’t like to try and improve, not just for others but also for myself. It’s a work in progress. Finally today I’ve had new crowns fitted. I can smile again without feeling uncomfortable.

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